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Articles in Cartography

The Californian Insular Myth: Follow the Blue Seashells (Adapted from the work of Annick Foucrier)

By Martin W. Lewis | June 21, 2014 | One Comment

(Note:  GeoCurrrents is concerned with all things connected to mapping, including the history of cartography. One particularly interesting and rather mysterious feature of world mapping in the early modern period was the persistent depiction of California as an island. This portrayal is so distinctive is that it has captured the attention of many historians, geographers, and map aficionados. In 2012, …

Dark Areas on the Earth at Night Map

By Martin W. Lewis | May 17, 2014 | 8 Comments

As is well known, North Korea is a dark land when viewed from space at night, quite in contrast to well-illuminated South Korea. In the Google EarthBuilder detail posted here, the discrepancy between the two countries is extreme. In the North, Pyongyang is the only sizable bright spot, and it is dwarfed by many regional South Korean, Chinese, and Japanese …

Industry, Insurgency, and Illumination in India

By Martin W. Lewis | May 14, 2014 | 7 Comments

The “nightlight” map of Burma posted in the previous GeoCurrents article reveals an interesting contrast with northeastern India. Although India’s far northeastern region is generally considered one of the least developed and most insurgency beset parts of the country, it is well illuminated when contrasted with neighboring Burma. To highlight this contrast, I have taken a detail from Google’s Earthbuilder …

Mapping Nighttime Light and Economic Development in Burma

By Martin W. Lewis | May 12, 2014 | 2 Comments

After posting the excellent Wikipedia map of per capita GDP in Thailand in the previous GeoCurrents article, I decided to look for similar information on Burma (Myanmar). I was not surprised to discover that such information is lacking, as the Burmese government publishes little economic data. I did, however, come across a 2012 article from The Economist that highlights a …

Wikipedia, the Difficulties of Mapping World Religions, and a Most Bizarre Map

By Martin W. Lewis | May 6, 2014 | 29 Comments

In teaching the global geography of religion this term, I have again been disappointed by the quality of relevant maps that are readily available on-line. Making a map of this sort is admittedly a challenge. Many areas contain multiple faiths, and a few religions—Mahayana Buddhism, Taoism, Shinto—even allow their own adherents to follow other religions simultaneously. Degrees of religiosity and …

Mapping Religion in the Unfortunate Atlas of Islamic Republic of Pakistan

By Martin W. Lewis | May 3, 2014 | 24 Comments

Mapping world religions is a challenging project, as will be discussed in a forthcoming GeoCurrents post. Although I have been disappointed by most global religion maps, nothing compares to the maps found, yet again, in the Atlas of Islamic Republic of Pakistan (2012, Rawalpindi, Survey of Pakistan Press). These depictions are so amusingly odd and awful that they merit extended …

American Geographical Illiteracy and (Perhaps) the World’s Worst Atlas

By Martin W. Lewis | April 30, 2014 | 22 Comments

GeoCurrents has long been concerned with geographical illiteracy. The depth of ignorance continues to be revealed, most recently in a Washington Post piece that indicates that only 16 percent of Americans can locate Ukraine on a world map. Most distressingly, a significant number of respondents placed Ukraine in central Greenland. Other reports indicate that geographical ignorance is widespread even at …

Does Pakistan Claim Junagadh in the Indian State of Gujarat?

By Martin W. Lewis | April 22, 2014 | 7 Comments

India and Pakistan’s territorial conflict over Kashmir (“Jammu and Kashmir” officially) is well known, as are the complications that it creates for cartographers. Maps produced in India must portray all of the disputed area as Indian land, while Pakistani maps show it as part of Pakistan. Outside observers who try to remain impartial usually divide these two countries at the …

Robin Wright’s Audacious Remapping of the Middle East

By Martin W. Lewis | October 1, 2013 | 37 Comments

I was taken aback this past Sunday (September 29) by Robin Wright’s colorful map of a politically re-divided Middle East in the New York Times, which illustrated her article “Imagining a Remapped Middle East.” The map, entitled “How 5 Could Become 14,” shows a hypothetical future division of Libya, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and Saudi Arabia into 14 potential new countries …

Iran Map Overlays in Keynote and Powerpoint

By Martin W. Lewis | September 13, 2013 | 4 Comments

Dear Readers,
You can now download the maps of Iran discussed in the post of September 11 here. They are available in both Keynote and Powerpoint formats.
Additional map overlays of other places will be periodically added in the coming weeks.
 

Simple Map Overlays of Iran Using Presentation Software

By Martin W. Lewis | September 11, 2013 |

Yesterday’s geo-quiz was answered correctly by several readers very quickly: the cities indicated are indeed found in Iran. The point of this exercise, however, was not so much to test knowledge but rather to introduce a simple manner of making and using map overlays, appropriate for elementary and secondary schools across the world. Sophisticated and georectified GIS (Geographical Information Systems) …

Another One-Question Map Quiz

By Martin W. Lewis | September 10, 2013 | 7 Comments

Can you identify a country merely from a map showing the position of its major cities — and nothing else?  If so, try to give the name of the country mapped here.
Tomorrow’s post will provide the not merely the answer, but also a number of map overlays that can be used  with this depiction of city locations to produce other …

Explaining the Rapid Rise of the Xenophobic Right in Contemporary Europe

By James Mayfield | July 22, 2013 | 251 Comments
Copyright James Mayfield

The last three decades have witnessed a remarkable rise in xenophobic, deeply conservative, and even extreme right-wing parties across much of Europe. Whereas thirty years ago most xenophobic parties failed to even pass the 5% minimum voter threshold that is typically required to enter government, they now constitute as much as ~28% of the parliament in countries like Austria, and arguably have reached the ~70% level in Hungary. Hoping to understand these surprising changes in the European political climate, this post will briefly analyze the characteristics of the xenophobic right as of 2013, underscore the diversity of xenophobic parties, and try to explain some of the patterns encountered when the far-right takes hold, as well as their exceptions.

Discrepancies in Mapping Persian/Farsi in Iran

By Martin W. Lewis | July 1, 2013 | 30 Comments

GeoCurrents is deeply concerned with language mapping, as we find maps of language distribution to be highly useful and, if done properly, aesthetically appealing. But we also tend to be critical of linguistic cartography, as the spatial patterning of language is often too complex to be easily captured in maps. Dialect continua, zones of pervasive bilingualism, overlapping lingua francas, areas …

New Maps of India—and of the Indian Economy

By Martin W. Lewis | April 30, 2013 | 8 Comments

New political maps of India are now needed, as the state of Orissa has officially changed the English spelling of its name to “Odisha.” The new name, however, does not imply a change in pronunciation. As the Wikipedia notes, “… the name Orissa is closer to the actual Oriya pronunciation of the name, whereas Odisha is an intentionally archaising transcription.”
Although …

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